DURHAM, N.C. - An
early chess match turned into an entertaining second half and No. 16 Richmond
held off Duke, 23-21, Saturday night at Wallace Wade Stadium in Durham, N.C.
The victory is the first for interim head coach Wayne Lineburg and is the
Spiders' third-straight at Duke since 2006.
Senior QB Aaron Corp threw for 193 yards and a touchdown, while senior WR Tre Gray reeled in a career-high 129 yards on a career-best eight catches. Redshirt freshman WR Stephen Barnette's first career catch was a six-yard TD grab that opened the scoring in the second quarter.
The Spiders (1-0) were limited to just 95 yards rushing, but junior FB Kendall Gaskins' eight-yard TD put Richmond up 17-14 in the third quarter and senior RB Garrett Turner's one-yard plunge was the eventual game-winner with 10:12 left on the clock.
Richmond's defense forced two key fumbles and junior S Cooper Taylor - a Georgia Tech transfer - made his Spider debut in hard-hitting fashion. Taylor recorded a game-high 14 tackles, had a tackle for loss, forced a fumble and broke up a pass. Junior LB Darius McMillan was in on 12 stops and senior S Colin Pehanick set a career-high with nine tackles (six solo). Pehanick also forced a fumble.
Corp's arm set-up the Spiders' late go-ahead score and Turner's one-yard TD run put the visitors up 23-21 with 10 minutes left. Corp hit Kevin Finney for 26 yards early in drive, and found Gray for hook-ups of 12 and 33 yards to put the Spiders in the Red Zone for the fifth time on the night.
And on fourth-and-goal at the one, Turner punched it in for his sixth career score. Richmond converted on four of its five Red Zone trips and scored all 23 points from inside the 20.
The Spiders, though, had to survive some late-game drama and Duke kicker Will Snyderwine missed a 28-yard field goal wide right with 1:43 left, then came up short on a desperation 60-yard try as time expired.
After a scoreless first quarter, Taylor made his presence felt by laying the lumber on Duke QB Sean Renfree and knocking the ball loose deep in Duke territory. Brandon Scott pounced on the loose pigskin at the eight-yard line. Three plays later, Corp hit Barnette with a perfectly-place ball for the six-yard score.
But Duke (0-1) answered right back on its next possession and Desmond Scott's 29-yard run knotted the game at 7-7.
Another turnover in the shadow of Richmond's end zone led to a field goal as Pehanick stripped Brandon Braxton, and McMillan recovered the fumble at the Duke 26. Five plays later, freshman Remington Hinshaw's 29-yard field goal put the Spiders back up 10-7 with 4:18 left in the half.
Duke had a chance to tie or take the lead on the final possession of the first half, but the Blue Devils ran out of time deep in Richmond territory and the game went to halftime with the Spiders leading 10-7.
A halftime fireworks display preceeded an explosive third quarter from both teams that saw the lead change hands four times on four consecutive possessions.
The ground game got rolling for Duke, and the Blue Devils rolled up an 11-play, 79-yard drive, capped by a six-yard TD run from Brandon Connette to claim their first lead of 14-10 at the 8:23 mark.
Gaskins' touchdown run finished off a long drive by the Spiders to put Richmond back in front with five minutes left in third, but the Blue Devils countered again with a lengthy drive and seized a 21-17 advantage in the closing seconds of the third.
Renfree finished 23-of-33 passing for 201 yards, while Juwan Thompson and Scott each surpassed the 80-yard rushing mark. Duke out-gained Richmond 379-288.
Richmond opens its home schedule Saturday night versus Wagner. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. ET and good seats are still available for the first-ever night game at Robins Stadium. Call 1-877-SPIDER-1 or purchase them online at RichmondSpiders.com.
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